Doha, the capital of the State of Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the World Cup in 2022 and there is no doubt, the world indeed made a good choice in its selection for the great international event.
The decision to pick Qatar over the US, Japan and Australia was right because the small Gulf country is making huge progress – great socio-economic development strides.
The development strides being made – the prosperity and wealth it is creating, has not being for its nationals alone, but also for the needy, the world over.
This position is shared by a group of journalists who visited Doha, the capital of Qatar, in September, this year.
They were from Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cameroun, Senegal, South Africa, Belgium and Kenya and toured selected organizations in Doha to gather information on efforts by the Qatari government to bring development and how it was making good use of the country’s human, financial and natural resources.
Despite the unfriendly – warm weather, compared to most African countries, there is evidence of real progress. This is visible from the clean, serene environment and architectural beauty of the city.
It is amazing how Qatar, within a relatively short space of time has grown into one of the richest Arab nations.
The smooth shinny and winding road network, the splendid high rise buildings and greenery are indeed are sight to behold. The country has been using resources from its huge gas reserves to invest in national, regional and global programmes – the Annual Doha Forum, the International Youth Forum and the World Cup.
It is worth noting that Qatar is carving a niche for itself by holding an international forum, each year, on different themes for the promotion of peace and development to ensure peaceful co-existence of all nations across the globe.
The ‘Doha Forum’, an annual meeting held in December, is a global event of diplomacy, dialogue and diversity, which creates a platform for experts in business, academia and world leaders to discuss policy guidelines that will propel global security, peace, growth and development.
With money from its gas and oilfields, Qatar offers many free services. Where these services are not free, they come with big subsidies, creating a kind of welfare state for its population of about 2.7 million. At the same time it has been extending humanitarian assistance to needy groups and countries including those in Africa where Ethiopia and Sudan top the list.
Areas toured by the team of journalists included, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Katara Hospitality, Qatar Foundation, Hamad Port and the Legacy Pavilion of the 2022 World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery among other sites of interest.
MINISTRYOF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Qatar’s new and revolutionary visa policy system has made it the most open country in the Middle East, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
The UN body also ranked Qatar the eighth most opened in the world in terms of visa facilitation in 2018.
Madam Lolwah Al-Khater, Official spokesperson of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, said these achievements were made through the operation of a robust foreign policy that benefitted everybody.
They had already provided a visa free programme for 88 countries and continuing to make provision for others, it considered fit to enjoy the facility.
Together with the Ministry of the Interior, an Airport Passport Department has been established to ease travel woes. There is also a visa entry Department, that works to overcome travelers’ struggles including the renewal and cancellation of residency, amendment of visa entry and the extension of visa.
‘Qatar continues to enjoy diplomatic relations with a host of nations including Ghana which has an embassy in Doha to ensure a strengthened economic and investment cooperation.
Ghana also enjoys free visas for diplomatic and special passport holders, Madam Al-Khater said, adding that,
in February, this year, Ghana’s Foreign Ministry and that of Qatar, engaged in consultations aimed at deepening bilateral ties between the two countries.
Madam Al-Khater said under its foreign policy, Qatar continued to give support to vulnerable and the needy children, especially, in Africa and the Arab world to receive education.
Additionally, it has been assisting in the promotion of women and children’s health.
‘Qatar also caters for thousands of refugees from war torn nations such as Syria and Sudan who need assistance to survive’, she added.
The facility, which is one of the leading hospitality organizations in the world, has created an iconic collection of hotels spread across the continents.
Established in 1970 by the government as the Qatar National Hotels Limited, it was rebranded in 2012 as Katara Hospitality to reflect the company’s heritage and its international reach.
Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim Al-Thani, Chairman of the facility, told the journalists that with their headquarters in Doha, the company had international offices in Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, among other countries and planned to increase the portfolio by 2026.
He spoke of a €1-billion plan to acquire between 50 to 60 facilities, comprising 10,000 4-star hotels in West Africa and named Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroun where consultations were going on.
This aside, there is an undisclosed budget for the ‘Katara Twin Towers’, the organization’s flagship project, earmarked to host the participants of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Tournament.
He said, currently, there were 7, 912 total keys in the company’s 40 properties spread across the world – Doha, New York, London, Paris, Bern, Hua Hin, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Singapore, Cairo, Amsterdam and other places.
‘There are 3737 keys in Qatar, 3,213 in Europe, 519 in Africa, 282 in the United States and 161 in Asia, according to Sheikh Jassim Al-Thani. He put the total number of employees at 6, 499, representing, a 400 per cent increase, within the last eight years.
The Qatar Foundation is an educational Institution established in 1995 to invest in human capital through education and the maintenance of the Arab nation’s cultural values.
The school system of the biggest national educational institution starts from age three and continues to the university after which graduates would decide to join the world of work or further their education.
Founded and funded by the Qatar government, Madam Haajerah Khan, Head of International Media in the Communications Directorate told the Ghana News Agency that the institution had a number of colleges – Medicine, Engineering, Business Administration, International Relations, Economics, Journalism, History, Archaeology and many others.
Apart from the formal education, the Foundation provides courses for workers to improve and sharpen their skills, community development programmes, translations, conducts health research, analyses data for airlines as well as data analytic and artificial intelligence to check on vehicular accidents.
Madam Khan labeled the Foundation as a vision created for the wellbeing of all people, both national and foreign, providing the opportunity for students to attain the highest level of education in their various careers’ and professional choices.
These opportunities were meant not only for the Qatari nationals but also those from the Gulf region and other parts of the world, including 170 from Africa, Haajerah Khan said.
The opportunities are provided irrespective of the ability to pay or not because there are subsidies from corporate organizations as well as the Qatar Development Fund which has been offering financial support to students.
She said the doors would continue to remain open to all people, desirous of achieving higher education, regardless of religion or nationality as the institution worked to promote the best in education, research and community development.
Haajerah Khan recounted various programmes undertaken by the Foundation including the World Innovation Summit of Education (WISE), an international initiative, aimed at transforming education through innovation.
It was established in 2009 with a mission to support new approaches to education and find new ways to manage education challenges.
It holds biennial conferences around the world to reward individuals or groups for outstanding contributions to education.
The 2017 conference, which was hosted by Ghana, in Accra, recognized Dr Patrick Awuah, founder of the Ashesi University with an award.
MINISTRY OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Mr. Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, the Minister of Commerce and Industry said Qatar had identified great opportunities in Africa for investments.
“We will continue to see Africa as a future ally with opportunities in trade, investment and the provision of financial as well as humanitarian assistance.”
He said although efforts were at the early stages, his government had already identified areas for cooperation including food and agriculture, hospitality, tourism and human resource.
He mentioned Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Ethiopia as potential centres for business opportunities but was quick to add, his country was still searching.
Qatar and Ghana had signed various bilateral agreements and Memorandum of Understanding, prominent among them, was with the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2018.
Mwani Qatar, the nation’s main gateway to the world trade and considered the ‘pride of Qatar’ is responsible for managing the country’s seaports and shipping terminals.
The multi-billion-dollar Company, according to Captain Abdulaziz Al Yafei, Director of Hamad port is the largest project in the Middle East.
Managing the Hamad, Doha and Ruwais ports, it offers expanded capacity in three container terminals and brings a host of new interventions.
Alongside the general cargo traffic, the port handles imports including livestock, automobiles, grains and a base for offshore and marine support vessels.
The 28.5 square-metre-facility handles general freight of 1.7 million tonnes, one million tonnes of grain, and about 500,000 vehicles, annually. The first of the three container terminals has an optimum capacity of two million annually and estimated to reach 7.5 million.
The Hamd Port received commendation for dredging project of the year at the Dredging and Port Construction Awards 2018 in Amsterdam, and rated among the top ports in the fields of innovation and port operations, Lloyds’ list of Global Awards 2018, London.
At the Legacy Pavilion of the 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, (Committee for the World Cup Tournament), the journalists learnt from the spokesperson, Karim Jabshen, that eight magnificent stadia have been earmarked for the tournament.
They are, Lusail – 80,000-capacity, Al Bayt – 60,000 while Khalifa International, Al Janoub, Al Rayan, Al Thumama, Ras Abu Abuoud and the Education City have 40,000-capacity each.
Karim Jabshen said his country was well prepared for the prestigious FIFA world football tournament and was determined to make it a big success, something that was going to leave everybody with lasting memories.
They are introducing the ‘Stadium Cooling Technique’, an innovative cooling system in all the stadiums to reduce the normal temperatures of between 38 to 44 degrees to about 18.
Other interesting achievements by Qatar include the establishment of the AlJazeera Media Network connecting the Arab world to the international community, the National Museum, Qatar National Library and the Souq Waqif, a vibrant market, which according to Mohammed Badr Al-Sada, Deputy Director of the Government Communications Office and Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Media City, gives visitors an ever beckoning invitation, a hospitable welcoming environment and an enjoyable stay.
GNA feature by Naana Badua